Well, here I am, on my third day back to work today after a wonderful week and a half of time away with family and friends for the holidays.
We spent Christmas with my side of the family - including my sister and her family who are living in Scotland for a few years - which meant that my parents' house was blissfully (and a bit chaotically) full of eleven people and five cats for a few days. We drove out to them Christmas Eve, after eleven o'clock worship, which put us in around 2 in the morning...hehe. Christmas morning, I got to worship at my home church and to sing with my family before coming home for our traditional Christmas morning breakfast (scrambled eggs, fried potato sausage, another kind of homemade sausage, cardimom bread, yule bread, rye bread, and lots and lots of coffee). We listened to music and leisurely opened presents, and spent the day relaxing together. It was lovely. On the 26th, we had a lazy sleep-in morning and a late breakfast before heading to downtown Chicago for our yearly visit to the Macy's (formerly Marshall Fields) Walnut Room Christmas tree.
Afterwards, we stopped by to visit family friends from our church. The husband is a glass artist, and while we were there, we all got to work with him to make glass icicle ornaments - so much fun! My parents and younger sisters and I have done it before, but it was Matt's first time. It's amazing to be so hands-on - we get to help melt the glass and get to take full responsibility for twisting and pulling the glass into these ornaments. I love having a glass-blowing family friend... :)
On the 27th, Matt and I flew out to New Jersey for a week with his family. We brought Emme with us...which was interesting... She meowed the entire time that we were at the gate, but was quiet during the flight after takeoff. And then we brought her to Matt's house, where she decided that she was NOT interested in hanging out with Daisy, Matt's parents' black standard poodle. We never quite got the two of them to be friends, but we made great progress in at least getting them to tolerate each other.
On the family side of things, we celebrated Christmas and spent time with Matt's grandmother before she flew to California (to visit more family!). We watched The Chronicles of Narnia with Matt's parents (for the first time...we don't watch a lot of movies...shame on us!) and played cards with Matt's sister and her almost-boyfriend. We went out to dinner with Matt's parents to celebrate our anniversary a few days early, and then spent the rest of the evening editing a Wikipedia article about earthworms and what they do in the winter, just because we could (yeah...don't ask.). We spent a lot of time trying to convince the cat to come downstairs and hang out with us (and the dog), and we at a lot of wonderful food. We celebrated our three-year anniversary by going out to dinner at a fabulous restaurant in Princeton called Sotto, and they by stopping into the Princeton Record Exchange for the second time that week to add to our ever-increasing library of CD's.
Matt and I also spent a lot of time with friends of ours. We spent three different evenings hanging out with different permutations of his high school friends, one of those evenings being New Year's Eve, and two of those evenings spent absorbed in the game Puerto Rico, which is perhaps the most complicated game I've ever played. Not difficult, really. Just lots of things to keep track of...and nearly impossible to explain to someone who hasn't played. We also spent time at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, the school where Matt worked while we were living in Princeton, where we not only visited with faculty/staff friends, but also with two of our closest friends with whom we went to college and with whom I went to seminary. On our last evening, we drove up to New Brunswick to play pinochle and visit with two of our other closest friends...we played the longest game of pinochle ever (no one could seem to ever make their bid!) and ate delicious homemade chocolate-toffee bars.
We flew back to Chicago-land on Friday, spent the evening with all of the family plus Beth's boyfriend, and spent Saturday enjoying one last day of relaxation and family time (including me baking two king cakes for Sunday's Epiphany celebration here at church!). Look at all of us!
Matt and I had a wonderful break and a blessed time with family and friends this Christmas. Matt commented that this was one of the best Christmases we've had, and I'd have to agree. I'm still trying to get myself back in a normal routine here in Rockford and back at Trinity...it's a slow recovery, admittedly, but I'm making some progress at getting things back on track and organized here. I'm at the end of my PhD applications (three down, one to go), in the midst of writing my 6-month evaluation (Really? I'm halfway done here? That's crazy.), and busy this week with rehearsals for Bach for the Sem. And so January hits the ground running...
So here's hoping that you all had a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year! Let's see what 2008 has in store for us!